The Role of Cross-Cultural Awareness in Expatriate Assignment Success

By Patricia Ann Mehegan.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In a rapidly globalising world, expatriate assignments are becoming more numerous and more significant. However, a significant percentage of expatriate assignments fail. The consequences of a failed expatriate assignment are important not only for the individual employee but also for their employer, their family, colleagues within their organisation and in the host country and other stakeholders. This paper is based on the author's research into the expatriate experiences of Australian former and current expatriate workers from 35 organisations from the private, government and non-government sectors. 89 in-depth interviews were conducted including the aforementioned expatriate workers, cross-cultural trainers, representatives of peak industry bodies and individuals from the managerial and administrative departments of the organisations responsible for the selection, training, in-country support and repatriation processes for expatriate employees. A number of clearly identifiable factors emerged that impacted on the likelihood of success or failure of an individual's overseas assignment. This paper deals with those factors and concludes by presenting some strategies for organisations and individuals to adopt to maximise the likelihood of a successful expatriate process.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural, Cross-Cultural Awareness, Cross-Cultural Training, Expatriation, Repatriation, Human Resource Practices and Policies, Workplace Training, Cross-Cultural Competence, Intercultural Competence, Expatriate Adjustment

The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.103-110. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 586.729KB).

Dr. Patricia Ann Mehegan

Researcher, Education Faculty, Cross-Cultural and Global Mobility Consultant, Australia

In 2006, Pat Mehegan was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy for her thesis entitled Cross-Cultural Awareness and the Expatriate Experience: a Tri-sector Study of Cross-Cultural Training in Australian Organizations. She now practises as a cross-cultural and global mobility consultant and has worked as a consultant for an Australian government study researching the effectiveness of cross-cultural training in the Australian context. Her Masters thesis was about the role of cross-cultural awareness in Australian Defence Force language training. She has lectured in Indonesian at the Australian Defence Force Language School after studying Indonesian at the School and Padjadjaran University in Bandung, Indonesia. She has presented papers at Australian and international conferences and to various industry and government groups. Her research interests include cross-cultural awareness and training, expatriation and repatriation issues, globalization, ethics and diversity, second language acquisition and applied linguistics, adult education and workplace training.

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